Hudson University in New York: Fact or Fiction?

Perhaps best known for its repeated cameos on the popular television show 'Law & Order,' Hudson University is a fictional institution that has popped up throughout popular culture.

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By Megan Driscoll

hudson university new york city

The real Hudson River.

An Imaginary Institution

Henry Hudson was an early 17th century navigator who came from England to explore, among other things, the waters around what is now known as New York City. While hunting for a northeast passage to India, he came across a large river flowing north to south. Today that body of water forms the border between New York City and New Jersey and is called, after Henry, the Hudson River.

Hudson died later when his soldiers mutinied and cast him adrift while they went hunting for a Northwest Passage. His name lives on in one of the country's most famous rivers - but not in a university.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly when the fictional 'Hudson University' entered the popular imagination, but one of the earliest recordings of it comes from a 1969 issue of DC Comics' Batman. The Atlas of DC Comics locates the University in the fictional city of New Carthage, New York.

Famous Batman attendees of Hudson include Dick Grayson (Robin), Crystal Frost, Professor Martin Stein, Duela Dent and Louise Lincoln. In a 1984 New Adventures of Superboy comic, teenage Clark Kent even considers an offer to attend Hudson University, although he ends up going to the equally fictional Metropolis University instead.

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Not Hudson University

However, Hudson University is probably best known for its many appearances on the hit TV series Law & Order and its spin-offs. Some people hypothesize that the creators of the show chose to place college-centered episodes of the crime drama at a fictional institution in order to avoid misrepresenting criminal activity at a real college or university.

The physical appearance of Hudson University on the show comes from an amalgam of many different colleges. Just a few of the more famous 'Hudson' filming locations include:

  • New York University
  • Columbia University
  • Hunter College
  • City College of New York
  • Pratt Institute

Hudson University has also made an appearance on a few other popular TV shows. Cliff Huxtable on 'The Cosby Show' attended medical school at Hudson University, and Jimmy Brooks in 'Degrassi: The Next Generation' was accepted to Hudson's 'prestigious' law school. ABC's 'Castle' used it several times as the fictional school attended by various episodic characters.

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